Senators scold Atienza for skipping budget hearing for Pacman fight


By Christina Mendez Updated December 10, 2008 12:00 AM

Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza caught the ire of senators yesterday for skipping the budget hearing of the P8.1-billion allocation for the Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) after he chose to watch the “Dream Match” of Manny Pacquiao and Oscar de la Hoya last weekend.

Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Jamby Madrigal expressed disappointment over the demeanor of Atienza, who readily defended his actions by saying that attending the Pacquiao fight was his “responsibility” to the RP boxing icon and the country.

During the budget hearing, Madrigal asked Atienza about the connection of the Pacquiao fight to his role as DENR secretary after the latter apparently gave more importance to the boxing match than the ongoing budget hearings at the Senate.

Madrigal wanted to know how Atienza was prioritizing the DENR budget vis-à-vis the celebrated fight.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, who heads the finance subcommittee defending the DENR budget before the plenary, explained that Atienza took the first available flight to return to the country after the fight.

“The visit to Las Vegas is part of a group of Filipinos who want to give moral support to our national idol. We need that kind of boost at this time on the eve of probably one of the worst economic recession that might hit us… and so this victory of our national idol is very much welcome by many Filipinos and number one sports fan like the secretary and many other government officials who witnessed the historic event,” Angara said.

Madrigal also asked the DENR secretary if the Pacquiao fight is part of “a new rescue package of the Philippines – P350-billion knockouts.”

“Maybe not in an economic sense but maybe a spiritual rescue and bailout for many apprising Filipinos,” said Angara.

Angara spoke on behalf of Atienza because it is customary in Senate debates for the finance chairman or his representative to defend the budget before plenary in the presence of officials of the department whose budget is being heard.

“Pacquiao, like Angelina Jolie, will now be coming out and campaigning against global warming,” Angara added.

But Atienza did not make a commitment when asked by Madrigal if Pacquiao – like Jolie – would give up 50 percent of his earnings to charities involving environmental concerns.

Atienza said he can merely use his “persuasive” powers on Pacquiao to help in the government’s environmental campaign.

Madrigal even asked where Atienza had been billeted, to which the secretary revealed that Pacquiao provided for his hotel accommodation.

For his part, Atienza said the department can readily defend the budget even without his presence.

“Our senior officers were ready to defend our budget, I just had to perform also an important task not only as personal thing. It was also for the country,” Atienza said, adding that Pacquiao is “like a son to him.”(PStar)

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My Take:

Baka malaki ang pusta.

Baka lang…

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